Ahh genital sunning, a wellness trend that has really hit its peak moment. I first considered just writing a quick social media post about this but then realized I really wanted to provide a more nuanced perspective.
I’m writing from the point of view of my understanding of Chinese Medicine theory as well as hormonal physiology and of course my own embodied experience of yoni sunning.
Let’s get started.
Yin, Yang and the Sun
It’s important to understand that the meridian system of Chinese Medicine is, in part, based on the body’s relationship to the Sun. There are 12 primary meridians, 6 of which are Yin in nature and 6 of which are Yang in nature. Each meridian corresponds to an organ system and the trajectory of the meridian can tell you a lot about what its impact is on the body.
Yin is Lunar in nature, it’s dark, cool, water, substance and the shady side of the mountain (or the body). Yang is Solar in nature, it’s light, warm, fire, movement and the sunny side of the mountain (or where the sun hits the body).
All of Chinese Medicine theory is based on this fundamental concept. Our emergence from and relationship to nature is essential. Through this understanding, the application of Yin and Yang can help you locate yourself as part of this natural world and not separate from it. We don’t necessarily need to “learn” with the mind how to apply this theory, instead we can begin to trust our own embodied experience since everything comes back to this essential Yin and Yang relationship.
What relationship you might be wondering by now?
Yin and Yang are mutually dependent. One holds the seed of transformation into the other. They are in a dynamic, ever-evolving relationship. As one is consumed, so is the other. This is conceptualized in the Yin Yang symbol, which you can gaze upon for deeper insights into this relationship.
Where does the Sun come into this?
As ancient peoples identified organ systems and their corresponding meridians, these were also related to the classic 5 elements of Chinese Medicine (Water, Wood, Fire, Earth and Metal) as well as certain times of day, seasons, colors, grains, emotions and so on.
The 12 primary meridians were named based on their location on the body and likelihood of receiving sunlight during the daytime hours, while land tending, hunting, gathering water, tending to children etc. Yin meridians tend to be in areas that don’t receive as much sunlight during the day, like the inner aspects of the arms and legs and the front aspect of the torso.
The Yang meridians tend to be in areas that do receive a lot of sunlight exposure during daytime hours, like the outer aspects of the arms and legs and the back. Of course it gets even more nuanced in that the meridians are considered: Lesser Yang, Greater Yang and Brightest Yang, where Brightest Yang meridians (Stomach and Large Intestine) receive the most sunlight during daylight hours.
There is of course a natural order in how our bodies relate to and exist within the environment and do or don’t receive sunlight exposure.
Yin Meridians of the Legs
The three Yin meridians of the inner aspect of the legs are the Spleen, Liver and Kidneys. The Liver meridian encircles the genitals for both males and females. These three Yin meridians all traverse the pelvic space and have a deep relationship to Blood and the menstrual cycle.
The Liver organ stores Blood and regulates menstruation, while the Kidneys govern our overall reproductive life. The Spleen supports the production of Blood through its relationship to Inner Earth and digestion. It also keeps Blood in the vessels and ensures that we don’t lose too much blood through menstruation.
The integrity of these organ systems and the meridians is essential for pelvic and menstrual health. While each of these organs have a Yin and Yang aspect, it is the Yin aspect that is of utmost importance for reproductive life.
There is also an “Extraordinary” meridian that emerges at the perineal space, the Ren Mai (Mai meaning channel). The Ren Mai is also known as the Conception Vessel or the Sea of Yin. It originates in the womb for women. This meridian travels up the front aspect of the body along the midline.
Genital Sunning as a Practice
Sun exposure is essential for life. It supports the most basic function of cellular biology – energy production through mitochondrial function. Collectively we have grown so wary of “too much” sun exposure that many of us are lacking adequate exposure for vitality, and I would argue that vitamin D production and status is a very small window into this issue.
As a practice, genital sunning can support:
- Skin integrity and vitality (like when healing postpartum)
- Warmth and building Yang energy within a system
- Mitochondrial function of pelvic organs
- Hormone production
- Microcirculation in the genital and pelvic space (which supports reproductive health)
- Deepening an embodied sense of pleasure and ease
As you can see, these can all be deeply supportive for overall vitality, genital health and hormonal resilience.
The medicine is in the dosage, timing and particular needs of your constitution. Just like anything, Yoni sunning can be overdone. For someone with a tendency towards Yin deficiency, which is a large part of the population given our current societal norms and life demands, a little goes a long way.
For women, Yin deficiency looks like…
- Night sweating
- Insomnia that is characterized by frequent waking
- Easily fatigued, better with rest
- Short cycles with erratic flow (sometimes heavy, sometimes light) or very long cycles
- Dry skin
- Lack of lubrication or cervical fluid
- Low estrogen
- Vaginal dryness or pain
If you have signs of Yin deficiency then I would approach Yoni sunning with curiosity and really tune into how it feels for you during and after the practice. The Sun being utmost Yang in nature may exacerbate issues of Yin deficiency by adding more heat to the system and further depleting Yin.
The vulva is very Yin in nature, surrounded by Yin meridians and the birthplace of the Sea of Yin at the perineum. It is hidden, wet, changeable (within the cycle, for arousal and birth), soft and layered.
We live in a culture that worships at the altar of Yang often at the expense of Yin. This looks like prioritizing doing over being, production over rest, convenience over true, lasting nourishment.
Could genital sunning be part of that? I think it depends on your intention and your unique constitutional needs. I know for me, when I’ve practiced it, a little feels like enough. I do think it’s helpful for vaginal microbiome health and postpartum healing specifically. If you tend towards Yang deficiency then it could be a more regular practice for you.
For women, that looks like…
- Fatigue that isn’t better with rest
- Low thyroid function
- Low basal body temperature
- Long periods that are light in color and consistency
- Persistent white cervical fluid or vaginal secretions
- Feeling cold often
- Loose stools, low appetite
- Short luteal phase
If you’re not sure about your constitutional type, take the Womb Cycle Vitality Quiz for immediate feedback!
You will have to embody your own hormonal intelligence and womb wisdom to determine if Yoni sunning is the right practice for you, the right timing and the right dose. Trends come and go but your relationship to your body’s wisdom is for life.
Is Yoni Moon Bathing on the horizon?
If you tend toward Yin deficiency or if you’re simply looking for a way to counter the effects of modern culture’s Yang obsession, I would consider genital moon bathing to gather the energies of Yin. Different phases of the moon will have different energetic impacts. For example, a full moon is Yang within Yin while the new or dark moon is utmost Yin.
We also exchange Yin and Yang in our sexual relationships. Bringing intention and awareness to this can be a practice of gathering the energy that you need or offering your Yin essence to a partner.
Your experience of yoni sunning or moon bathing is what matters most. Does it contribute to feeling more embodied and even connect you with a felt sense of pleasure? Then, you’re surely on the right path towards more vitality.
Here’s to following your own flow and finding practices that work for your needs!